1950's House Wife Cat painting

Who is this woman, capable of "doing it all"?

I logged into my MSN Hotmail account, to check my messages for the umpteenth time, and came across this entertaining blurb in the sidebar:

“10 Things Women Do That Drive Guys Crazy” posted in the Lifestyle section by Glamour magazine.  Being curious, I deviated from the boring task of checking spam and reading Facebook updates, and clicked on the link to discover how men “really feel” about the women in their lives.  I always find these articles amusing because I tend to agree with the men on most issues, and have since realized that I must not be a typical female… if jealousy, clinginess, and obsession with commitment are truly “female” traits.  I’ve met some guys who would test that assumption.

This article, however, made me laugh for an entirely different reason. With each declaration, I felt myself dying to point out the similarities between the Pot and the Kettle. (Psst, they are both black)   

So here are my thoughts on your Top 10 Pet peeves, guys:

1. “Hair. In. The. Tub.” – Andrew, 31

Okay, so what about men’s shaving facial hair in the sink?! There is nothing grosser than walking into the bathroom to brush your teeth, and finding a layer of beard stubble clinging to the sides of the sink. Or how about men who cut their own hair using those electric razors, and then leaving the clumps on the bathroom floor, for us to sweep up.

2. “Examining multiple cans of soup” – Dave, 37

Yeah, this one gets me too. Everyone is so obsessed with reading the soup labels, looking for that evil MSG, sodium, and trans-fat, perhaps they should start making their soups from scratch and forget preserved canned food altogether. But I personally like how men can blow $100 on groceries and come home with nothing except snacks. 😉

3. “My girlfriend makes fun of me for laughing at my own jokes” – Chris, 37

Hmmm, I’ve had men make fun at me while I put on my make-up or fix my hair, because I guess they found my primping routine silly. And yet – surprisingly, they suddenly decide I’m more attractive once I’m “all dolled up”.  Go figure.
Do you want the steamy girlfriend/wife, or the girl in sweatpants and a ponytail?  If you answered ,”Steamy, baby!”, then close the bathroom door and live in ignorance while I apply this foundation and cover my dark circles.

4. “Disorganized loading of the dishwasher” – Chad, 27

Actually, that was MY pet-peeve towards certain male counterparts… nothing was getting washed thoroughly. Fortunately, I do all the dishes by hand now. 😉

5. She washes the bathtub before dinner guests arrive – Dennis, 31

Give her props! She wants a nice, clean bathroom that will not gross people out when they use the toilet.  If you don’t have a shower curtain to disguise the mess, they might walk past the tub and go, “Eeew, gross! Look at all your wife’s hair in the drain!” 😉

I personally wouldn’t scrub the tub for guests; it’s one of those chores I loathe to tackle, because it reminds me of that stint working part-time as a housekeeper at a Bed-and-Breakfast. Nasty stuff!

I guess my male equivalent to this mixed blessing would be not picking up after oneself. Men tend to shed their jackets, clothes, shoes and whatnot everywhere, and we walk behind them and toss everything into the laundry hamper.  Except the shoes.  And, hours later, they’re wandering aimlessly, asking
“Where are my jeans? I thought I left them over here.”
“Oh, you mean those dirty ones you’ve worn for 3 days? They’re being washed…. Sorry.”

6. “Women call and have nothing to talk about” – Chuck, 22

Oh, Chuck! Fortunately you have never met my ex-boyfriend! He was King of Calling for Absolutely No Reason… except to tell me that he loved me for the millionth time, because THAT was supposedly reason enough to interrupt the blessed few hours of peace I had.  He would also get very upset if I didn’t want to stay on the phone and talk about how much I loved him in return… indefinitely… or until his train arrived.

But seriously… that calling and chatting about nothing WILL end once you’re in a committed relationship (i.e. you’re living together). Pretty soon, she’ll get sick of seeing your face, and hearing all about your boring day at the office, and will welcome that bit of free time to herself.  She might not even answer the phone when you call. hehehe

7. Taking too long choosing from the menu – Ricardo, 39

My smart-ass side wants to reply, “Take her to a restaurant with a reputation for nasty food, so she’ll be forced to choose the only edible thing on the menu” …Or more rationally, “Stop taking her to NEW restaurants.” 
I’m sure she has an established “Gimme the Usual” repertoire of dishes at your favorite date places.

I liken this to the Great Mystery of Life – “DirectTV VS Dish Network”… raise your hand if you know a man who has obsessed for DAYS over that decision.

8. Talking while driving; being distracted – Glenn, 39

Hah! So we miss available left-hand turns… men, however, like to cut in front of people and flick the finger at the annoyed drivers beeping their horns behind us.
They also enjoy lane-jumping, to pass every creature on the highway in manuevers that should be reserved for a NASCAR track.. in some primeval urge to be the leader of the pack.  Not to mention the dangerous joys of spontaneous drag-race competitions with the fellow in the neighboring lane.  Pull over in front of this Taco Bell, and let me out! I’ll walk home.
9. Thermostat Wars – Charlie, 32

Yes! Finally, a point that I’m guilty of engaging in! I like my house warm and toasty, and most of my partners have preferred a slightly chilled room.
There is no right or wrong here… you can’t argue with personal comfort.  We averaged our desired temperatures together and found a median that serves us well.
Although I admit to playing upon his guilty conscience occasionally, by wearing an extra layer or two, like a sweater and coat. 😉

10. “The endless ‘Honey-can-you-do-this?’ list” – Shane, 30

Tired of the never-ending pile of chores? Awwww, poor baby. Hah! Welcome to adulthood!
Okay fine, switch roles for one week:
She can pay the bills, caulk around the tub, and repaint the deck… if you do all the cooking, cleaning, and baby-sitting. But don’t expect her to come running when junior takes off his diaper and smears himself and the walls with its contents. Remember, you’re the Mommy now! And that doesn’t mean letting the toddler run the vacuum while you play video games. 😉

Let’s face it, we humans have our flaws… and choosing a partner means taking their unique quirks into consideration.  Men: Is her disorganization something you can live with, considering how fantastic she is otherwise?  If the answer is yes, than don’t gripe about it! You have plenty of imperfections that she wisely chose to pardon.

I laugh at dating commercials, with their abstract ideals of “true compatibility”, because most long-term relationships are either bolstered or destroyed by mundane acts like this.  Many of my friends are divorced, and none of them confessed, “I’m a walk-along-the-beach-at-sunset type of person, and he wanted to spend his evenings at the bowling alley.”

So, in addition to asking how often a person feels satisfied in their career, and whether they consider themselves religious or spiritual.. they should include
such important issues as “How long on average does it take you to merge onto the freeway?” … and ….“How would you rate the amount of hair you leave in the tub?”

On a sliding scale: from (1) I rarely shed, to (5) I’m cultivating a rainforest.

1950's Housewife Cat cookbook

Cookbook featuring my "1950's Housewife Cat" painting

Wednesday I cleaned the house. Seriously. I’ve never been a neat-freak, more an advocate of “controlled clutter”… but the other day, I organized and weeded through toy bins and closets, dug everything out from under rust ruffles, vacuumed behind furniture, and even tackled the mess in my art studio. I was very pleased with the outcome, and with myself for being committed enough to accomplish it… I wanted Joe to come home that night, and be shocked speechless. haha
The children obviously had a different agenda, and did their best to thwart my efforts …but I enlisted Mia’s help in sorting good toys from broken ones, and distracted her later with a bath. Jake was content to investigate all the new places; he loves to chase the vacuum around, and was thrilled to watch Mommy slide the couch across the carpet.

Keeping the floors clean requires a daily vacuuming, minimum.  On a typical day, I’ll vacuum 2-3 times… usually after meals. I caught myself, cursing under my breath as I picked up stray cookie crumbs by hand (since I’d just put away the machine)… it dawned on me – I have truly become my mother. I realized that my jokes regarding her super-gluing plates under our chins, seemed at once logical and actually feasible.

Or how about those cone collars they use for dogs?  They would also catch crumbs, right?

My surprise obsession with housework comes on the heels of another newfound love: cooking.   I used to hate cooking!
A difficult admission coming from a self-described baking addict, whose work resume reads like a restaurant menu.
I’ve always love to bake goodies, especially cakes, but aside from an occasional lasagna or grilled T-bone steak, my idea of a relaxing dinner did not include standing over a boiling pot, “stirring constantly for 15 minutes”.

However, in the recent months since Jacob’s birth (and my departure from full-time work), we had some frank discussions of our finances… a subject that always paints unhealthy worry-wrinkles on Joe’s otherwise placid forehead.
Sometimes, I lighten the mood by asking: When does the ‘For Richer’ part kick in?”
With many of my friends embracing the “green” lifestyle, and I myself dabbling in alternative living with my handmade soap and shampoo addiction, I decided to take their longstanding advice. Ditch the boxed dinners and cook from scratch!
Don’t get me wrong, I do know how to cook… despite what my ex-husband may tell you. Don’t listen to him. It was sheer laziness that prompted me to reach for those TV dinners, not lack of ability.

I decided to look at cooking as a new adventure to experiment with… like my shampoo adventure… except this time, I could still eat my mistakes. Well.. most of them. Okay, so shoot me, I didn’t remember to cut the grissle off the turkey pieces before adding them to my pot pie. Just spit them out! Sheesh. 😉

It intrigued me that a few stable ingredients: milk, eggs, butter, flour, sugar, (meat of choice), and a few spices… can create so many different dishes. I stocked up on everything from corn meal to active yeast, and my grocery bill was noticeably lighter. I started with dishes that were already familiar, and expanded from there – Googling all my favorite dinners to find the best homemade alternative. I never realized you can make pancakes from corn meal! Okay, so my first attempt at scratch pancakes literally scratched me, as they leaped off the skillet to attack my jugular. Other recipes came out perfectly the first time, and I’m actually in love with my own flour and honey biscuits.
Joe invested in more plastic storage containers, because I was trying a couple different recipes each day, and the leftovers were getting out of control. When he mentioned the need for a bigger freezer, I decided to rein in my enthusiasm and actually reheat my pre-cooked concoctions. So, the microwave wasn’t retired entirely… and it still remains my favorite way to boil water and melt butter. Even though my family will probably die in 50 years from the radiation cancer. 😦

A good friend of mine, who lives 3 states away, purchases her eggs and goat’s milk from a local farm, and insists that making her own butter and cheese from scratch is “the best way to go”.  I haven’t developed that level of commitment yet.   Baby steps.

So what caused this shift in attitude… from one domestically impaired “trophy wife” into a full-fledged Donna Reed in training?
One part: maturity:

Sure, I’ve felt a change in myself since giving birth to Mia, and creating this nurturing family that we have. My previous daughter was born during a time of insecurity, when my life lacked focus. Not knowing the direction I wanted to take, or how I “fit into the scheme of things”, I wasn’t ready to settle down and face the responsibility of parenthood. I wasn’t feeling maternal or matrimonial at the time; I felt trapped and stifled in a tiny room without doors and one narrow window.

Fast forward several years later, I met a man who helped to establish a relationship built on respect and admiration, but most importantly, the freedom to just be myself and be loved unconditionally. For the first time EVER… I felt love without pressure, expectations, or standards to meet.
Loving him in return is so ridiculously easy, that my choice to commit myself and grow our family didn’t seem like I was limiting myself, rather the world was our oyster. Pass the pearls, please. 😛

Five Parts: work-ethic:

I’ve always been a workaholic, and when I wasn’t conceiving an excuse to squeeze in some Over-Time, I was investing countless off-the-clock hours fretting, planning, and even dreaming about my day job. More like nightmares – that a plague of locusts would ransack the store, devouring all the food off the shelves, and we would have nothing in the backroom to replenish our inventory …except Gatorade and Frosted Flakes.
When I relinquished my position, that pent-up energy had to be absorbed elsewhere… hence, my new promotion and “job title”.
I’m officially Mrs. Donna Reed-Teach: efficient housekeeper, darling cook, and doting mother. hehe
Now my obsessive nature is channeled into vacuuming the carpets multiple times per day, keeping the laundry baskets emptied, the bellies full, and the house organized. I stopped myself from labeling kitchen items, because I’d be too tempted to create “Savings” signs for them, and I don’t stripe my bath towels according to color either…. yet….
I should give each child a shopping cart, however, so they can pick up after themselves.

Sometimes I fail in my endeavor for perfection, such as the morning I forgot to wash Joe’s favorite pair of slacks, and he grudgingly picked them out of the discarded hamper. But when I asked him, in a serious moment, if he had any regrets about marrying me and having a family – he answered “Not at all. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
And best of all, I believed him.

But for now, I must end this post, because the carpet needs some extra TLC…
and the corn pancakes have escaped from their cage and are climbing the curtains… again.

Joe and Mia, father and daughter

I came up with the idea for this blog last Thursday. I was struck by how fortunate I am (in so many ways), and instead of focusing on areas where my life is lacking, I wanted remind myself occasionally that I have a great deal to be thankful for.
At the top of my “Thankful List” was the amazing support and companionship I receive from Joe. I consider this first, because relationships have always been difficult for me.. I often wondered whether Mr. Right would ever find me, or if I would dump him 10 minutes after our introduction in some petty fashion.

I sat down to compose a Top 20 List, highlighting all the things I love about Joe. In and of itself, this was not a challenging task, because he causes me to fall in love with him each and every day… and his fine qualities could inspire 50 such lists.
However… *cough* when I reviewed the initial list, it seemed overly negative – as it dwelt mainly on comparisons between ours and failed relationships from my past. I wanted this exercise to be positive, and yes …even romantic, so I put the list away and forgot about it.

Until this afternoon.

Re-examining my list, I realized it gives insight into my way of thinking, screwed-up as it may be. I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly what makes me fall for someone. I never had an image of the “perfect man” in my mind. On the contrary, I chose men based upon how dissimilar they were to my growing list of inexcusable flaws.
“Has he ever beaten his girlfriend?”
“Has he ever shot a cat?”
“Does he shave his butt or measure the circumference of his arm muscles?”

If they passed, I dated them. And as each relationship bit the dust, my list continued to grow.
There are countless ways to be a jerk…

For Joe:
Top 20 Reasons Why I Love You

1. You don’t call me up, drunk, quizzing me on where you are and who you’re with.

2. You don’t share juicy, intimate details with all your friends; or if you do, only with friends discreet enough not to pass the tales back to me.

3. You don’t “rank” me among your exes, and tell me how I might improve my overall score.

4. You haven’t tried to dump me for being beneath your standards, while setting me up on a date with your desperate friend or relative.

5. You don’t flirt with other women in my presence, in a lame attempt to seem desirable.

6. You’ve never told me that your ex was “so special” that nobody will ever replace her in your heart.

7. You don’t insist that we spend quality time with your sleazy cousin, who makes it known to everyone (including his girlfriend) that he fantasizes about being with me.

8. You don’t write letters to your other (secret) girlfriend, and give them to ME… to deliver for you!

9. You don’t kiss like a dog, by licking all over my face, including my nose.

10. You never insisted that I think about you every second I’m not with you, or call you on the phone every possible chance I get… because obsession is a healthy measure of love.

11. You never forced me to wash my hands after petting a cat, because deadly “Cat germs” are transmitted through holding your partner’s hand.

12. Likewise, you never insisted that rinsing a cat’s water-bowl in the kitchen sink, would cause deadly “cat germs” to grow in the basin; mutant germs impervious to bleach and detergent, that will contaminate any dishes which come into contact with the sink.

13. You never started a serious argument with me because I didn’t reply to each of your 150 daily text messages.

14. You never claimed that only “a whore” would be seen at a gas station after dark, wearing shorts.

15. You didn’t try to convince me to quit my job, move, re-invent my wardrobe, or change my beliefs simply because the reality of who I am didn’t live up to the fantasy in your mind.

16. You don’t require me to “prove” my feelings every time you’re feeling insecure.

17. You don’t invent imaginary conspiracies, where everybody at your office, the fellow commuters on your train, and the strangers behind you in the Subway line, are all plotting to ruin your life. (Because you know the universe does NOT revolve around you….)

18. You don’t tell me that my hobbies are a waste of money, and my time would be better spent cleaning the house.

19. You’ve never fed me cheesy sci-fi plots as an excuse to break-up.

The classic Comet-Interfering-With-My-Brain line: “You see, the ME from the FUTURE traveled back to this point in time, where the comet appears. Now that TWO versions of me are here, I can’t think straight.. and I need some time alone, to separate my thoughts from my future self’s thoughts…”
And yes, someone did try that! And no, I didn’t buy it.

Last but not least:

20. This list wasn’t your idea. 😉

I love you because I don’t need to spell out my feelings eloquently in blogs every week… you KNOW I care, and you’ll care for me just the same, even if this list never gets published. You’ll never know what a relief that is… (because half of my blog ideas never do)

And for all my exes out there: If you stumble across this list, and start wondering whether certain remarks herein were making reference to YOU…..

Excuse me. *cues the Carly Simon music*


You’re so vain…
And absolutely right!

I am also thankful for all of you, because without your idiotic ways and immature behavior, I never would have recognized Mr. Right when (at last!) I found him. 🙂

I was sitting in the break-room yesterday perusing an old newspaper (old, meaning, earlier than Monday’s edition) and came across an article follow-up to a fatal crash story involving a bus transporting senior men to a sporting event and a tractor trailer.
In the initial story, it related the events of the crash… how the driver was charged with negligence (among other things) for crossing in front of the 18-wheeler, causing the accident, which left multiple people injured and one man dead.

In the follow-up story, we were informed that many of the victims’ families were filing lawsuits against the driver. Mainly elderly wives, seeking “wrongful injury/death” claims for their husbands. The first woman mentioned in the article, the widow, was suing for $4 million (I think)… $2 million to cover his medical and funeral expenses, and the loss of his income. The additional $2 million was a bit more abstract… it listed the oft used “pain and conscious suffering” of her husband, as well as her own emotional pain and suffering at his passing; it also listed characteristics of their relationship (love, compassion, support, guidance, companionship, etc. etc.) that required “compensation”…
I read further, and another woman (whose husband is, thankfully, still alive) is suing (he’s petitioning also) for a few million: for pain, suffering, yadda yadda… PLUS the loss of their marital relations and marital “closeness”, as well as the “love, support, companionship” angle. I figure he was either physically unable to perform in bed as a result of his injuries, or else they got divorced afterward. (It didn’t specify)
Considering these men were all “seniors” in their 60’s and 70’s, supposedly, I was surprised the issue of “loss of marital relations” was even an issue. I know I’m being pessimistic, but really… the whole thing absolutely blows my mind.

I can understand the various tangible expenses… something you can financially record, and provide bills and statements for proof… being reimbursable. But how do you put a price tag on someone’s companionship??
I’m not trying to sound cold-hearted; I’m not saying that these women don’t deserve “something” for their loss. One would hope that their family, friends, and community would rally around them, and give the support, guidance, compassion, and so forth that they need… but perhaps they live in a society that no longer cares about their neighbors.

However, I question two things: First of all, how do lawyers come up with justifiable numbers for priceless, abstract concepts? And secondly, why are some people worth more than others?
(I did a bit more online research of lawsuit articles, and found multiple cases of widows, or family, suing for similar losses, varying from $10 million, $40 million, $100 million, and upwards)

When you wake up one morning and decide to file suit over the loss of your spouse, does your attorney provide you with a checklist?

1. Was he/she compassionate towards you? yes/no
2. Did he/she provide you with financial, emotional, spiritual advice? yes/no
3. Did he/she speak or show their love for you regularly? yes/no

Are you required to provide examples for the record? Do you rate his “level of compassion” on a scale?? Is that how lawyers determine that one man’s “love and guidance” is worth $10 million, and the man sitting across from him is worth $40 million?
“Why is her late husband worth more than mine?”
“Well, ma’am, you rated your satisfaction with his marital relations as a (4 out of 10), and Mrs. Smith rated her husband a six. That’s a $2.5 million increase in losses”

*as his fingers fly furiously over the adding machine*

I think the entire idea of claiming money for the loss of someone’s company is unthinkably degrading to that person’s memory. You’re basically being reimbursed for their life. You might as well walk into your local retailer, stand in line at Customer Service, and demand a refund for your husband.
“He’s irreparably defective or broken, and I want my money back”
“Do you have a receipt for him, ma’am?”

(you hand it over)
“Ah, yes, you purchased him 10 years ago, with a lifetime warranty (plus
insurance against fire, theft, and accidental death)… you put him on your
credit card… would you like the $4 million credited to your Visa?”

I would be devastated if anything happened to Joe. It’s entirely possible that I may lose him, either to health problems in the future (he’s turning 50 this Friday! :), an accident, or some violence at his workplace… after all, security personnel aren’t exactly the darlings of the retail world, and some of those drug-crazed, serial shoplifters carry weapons these days.
I can put myself in the place of these women, although I’d hate to imagine it, and understand that the shock and loss must be terrible. But will money help them? It’ll pay their bills, and keep them financially secure – hopefully $4-10 million can keep an elderly woman in comfort – but it won’t bring back the breakfasts in bed, or the coffee and newspaper “good mornings”, and it won’t bring back their compassion and concern. If these women have no neighbors or family to rely on, do they expect to PAY someone to embrace them when they need it?

On the way home from the baby-sitter’s, I heard a commercial for the local Hospice center on the radio. The musical score was upbeat and peppy (the theme was “embrace life” or something like that), and the “wife” was relating how her husband “died in peace and comfort” in his own home, surrounded by family and professional caregivers…
What seemed odd about the advertisement, was how happy the actress’ voice sounded: she described her husband’s “peaceful death” as if she were selling Serta mattresses for a restful sleep. There wasn’t a hint of grief. And the lively, cheerful music was annoying. I understand they want people to think Hospice will make your last days better, and I’m sure they help, but dying isn’t usually a bright, happy occasion for anyone. The commercial didn’t work for me.

But perhaps the wife had just won her lawsuit.